April 24, 2024

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‘Cat identity’ row school has snap Ofsted inspection

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Ofsted is carrying out a snap inspection of the school at the centre of the “cat gender” row, The Telegraph can reveal.

A teacher at Rye College, in East Sussex, sparked a major backlash after she was recorded telling a girl she was “despicable” for questioning another pupil claiming to identify as a cat.

The teacher told the Year 8 pupils they were being reported to a senior leader and were no longer welcome at the school if they continued to say that only boys and girls exist.

It led to Kemi Badenoch, the women and equalities minister, writing to Amanda Spielman, chief inspector of Ofsted, saying she believed the teacher had breached political impartiality rules by apparently teaching contested political beliefs as fact, including that there are “lots of genders” or that “gender is not linked to the parts that you were born with”.

Now, The Telegraph has learnt that the regulator is carrying out a full inspection of the school, part of the Aquinas Church of England trust, on Thursday. The school was last inspected in January and rated “good”, up from its last inspection in 2018 which judged it “inadequate”.

In a letter to parents, seen by The Telegraph, Ofsted said: “We have just told your child’s school that we will inspect it on 29th June 2023”, adding: “We would like to know what you think about the school.”

Lingering concerns

The intervention comes after Gillian Keegan, the Education Secretary, ordered officials to visit the school and assess if pupils’ safety had been put at risk.

Downing Street has told head teachers that they should not be teaching children that they can identify as cats or other animals, while the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also condemned it.

The school said, five days after the row broke, that no child identified as a cat or any other animal, but the parents and pupils involved claimed it was their understanding that one did.

This was met with jubilance from Left-leaning activists, but the fact that Ofsted is carrying out a probe – and that the teacher in the recording was removed from the classroom all of last week – suggests there are lingering concerns.

In the row, at the end of a class on “life education” on June 16, the teacher asked the pupils “where did you get this idea from that there are only two genders?”, adding: “It is not an opinion.”

The girls and their parents insisted that the row was sparked by one of the girls asking a fellow pupil: “How can you identify as a cat when you’re a girl?”

‘Grandstanding’

The teacher told the pupils that the view that “cisgender is the norm” was “really despicable”, accused them of homophobia – which the girls strongly denied – and ordered diversity training for them.

In her letter to Ms Spielman, Ms Badenoch said she believed that the teacher’s behaviour was a breach of the Equality Act and of Ofsted’s Education Inspection Framework’s requirements that schools promote respect for different protected characteristics defined in law.

While Geoff Barton, from the Association for School and College Leaders, accused her of “grandstanding”, The Telegraph has revealed further examples across the country identifying as cats, horses, dinosaurs and even moons.

An Ofsted spokesman told The Telegraph: “We considered the letter from the minister as a complaint, alongside others, and followed up with the school and other relevant agencies.

“Following these discussions, we are inspecting Rye College. Ofsted is an inspectorate – we do not investigate specific incidents.”

Rye College has been contacted for comment.

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